Here In Hula Heaven
Here In Hula Heaven
She would get no argument about that, but apparently that's her real name. She escorted us to the front gate. What is it about Polynesians? Everyone seems so friendly and happy. The guard-girls at the gate patiently explained how to catch the free bus to town, and where the cheapest laundries and freshest groceries were to be found. The customs officer, a haole (Caucasian), has obviously been infected with this ambient happiness, for although thorough in his paperwork, he could not have been more friendly or helpful.
Once we cleared in, we telephoned our old sailing friends, Mark Snyder and Dorothy Maggi, off the yacht Dirty Dottie, whom we have sailed with in Galapagos, Polynesia, and New Zealand. Their Morgan Out Island is still in Tasmania, where Mark and Dorothy have cruised for several years, but they recently bought a house and acreage here on the Big Island to serve as a land base. I encourage this trend in all my sailing friends, often suggesting that perhaps they would like to develop these holdings into Charitable Homes For Wayward Old Sailors, for which I might one day qualify as a resident.
We knew we had too little time to do justice to all of Hawaii, so decided to focus just on the Big Island, which is world renown for its active volcanoes and astronomical observatories.
Mark and Dorothy drove us south to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where in essence we watched our earth being formed. Now that's not something you do everyday. It's fascinating yet somehow unsettling to literally look down the barrel of our origins, and most likely our ultimate destruction, for we live on precariously thin and porous crust that barely insulates us from a core of seething molten magma.
|Alvah settles in at his Hawaiian office.|
Mark and Dorothy lent us their truck for a couple days to fetch diesel, groceries, LPG and parts. Diana explored the farmers market, always the center of action in any Pacific port, and treated herself to the last of retail reconnaissance, better known as window-shopping.
When we felt we deserved a break, we all drove to the top of 13,700 foot Manua Kea to watch the sun set below the clouds. As the golden light faded, we were treated to a crystalline view of the firmament rivaled by few places in the world. The air is thin and clean here, with no artificial light pollution. Countries from around the world have constructed elaborate telescopic observatories here to study the origins and nature of our universe.
The tropical latitude aside, it's cold up there, and our fellow tourists had traded in their lowland costume de rigor of bikinis and beach sandals for arctic parkas and quilted blankets.
Before we left the last outpost of modern connectivity, I had to locate Internet access to send off this post and other material to Cruising World. I found a perfectly sleazy bar gates complete with broken chairs and slashed couches and free Wi-Fi right across the street from the port. Of course, politeness demands that one purchase an ice-cold beverage or two in appreciation of the service.
Bright and hot outside. Dark and cool inside. I sat contentedly alone working in my new private office, until an attractive woman walked in, sat on a barstool and ordered a beer. She asked the bartender for the karaoke microphone then, turning on her barstool, began to serenade me directly with a sultry song, in a beautiful and professionally polished voice no less.
Maybe I am a simple man, and therefore simply pleased. But, I couldn't help but think back to my early years of wandering under sail when I would perhaps have mail contact with my family once in a year, and nearly as much time might elapse between the luxury of an ice-cold drink. And now I found myself with a frosty mug in one hand, instant access to my working colleagues, friends and family in the other, and a pretty personal entertainer to sing to me when my muses would not.
Now this is not the traditional image I held of Hawaii, swaying palms and swaying skirts on the whiteness of Waikiki, but nevertheless, I will depart with fond memories of this modern version of Hula Heaven.